About // sarah NEAL
I am a figure skating coach, yogi, traveler, adjunct professor, lover of Spain and Spanish, almost vegan, self improvement nerd, and bookworm.
I started skating at the age of 4 and always wanted to be a coach. My parents were teachers, and my sister is a teacher, so I guess it was in both my DNA and my environment. After a problematic relationship with the sport, compulsive perfectionism, and an eating disorder, I stopped competing to focus on college and trying to build a new identity. Life after skating led to even more disordered eating, depression, anxiety, and searching for something unknown. Eventually, my searching led me to study abroad in Spain, where I found myself at home with myself for the first time in many years. During graduate school for Spanish Linguistics, I decided to rewrite my skating story and return to the sport to coach.
After a couple of years, skating led me back to Spain, where I worked for a bit as a program director and coach. After 17 months and visa troubles, politics, and homesickness, I decided to return home. Once back home, I continued teaching university Spanish and coaching skating. I made my home in the skating rink again, but continued to strive too hard, searching for my true identity. I have earned two Master ratings from the Professional Skaters Association, coached skaters in various disciplines at the regional and national level, led multiple students to US Figure Skating gold medals in three different skating disciplines, and have directed successful shows and learn to skate programs. I gave my all to be the best coach I could be, but no level of success could protect me from the damage caused by years of comparisons and toxic professional and personal relationships that I struggled to overcome. I hadn't learned the skills yet to heal, move forward, and reclaim my identity.
It wasn't until I began a consistent yoga practice in 2013 that I began to heal and feel comfortable in my own skin. Connecting with my breath and slowing down to be present on the mat was the greatest, most powerful transformation I had ever experienced. Eventually, I decided I had to share the power of yoga as an embodiment practice, specifically with those who are looking to build healthier relationships with themselves and stepping into new chapters of their lives. After finished my RYT-200, The Skating Yogi was born.
Now, I take over four decades of athletic experience and over two decades of teaching, coaching, directing, programming and life experience to help figure skaters and other athletes find peace on the mat and within themselves. I help them connect their breath and awareness to their bodies, minds, and spirits, so they can move beyond harmful conditioned beliefs and habits to reconnect to their true selves, their communities, and new possibilities.